Michael Dunlop signalled his intentions for the weekend when he dominated the shortened Dundrod 150 Superbike race on Thursday afternoon. The McAdoo Racing Honda rider grabbed the lead on the first lap and immediately opened up a 1.5s lead and when the red flag came out on lap five, his lead over second placed Guy Martin was up to 3.3s.
"I’m struggling with my back when I’m walking around but on the bike it’s not too bad," said Dunlop, as he hobbled to the podium. "The bike’s working well although I’ve a bit of work to do with the front but the tryes were lovely and a great first lap gave me a good buffer. I did have a major moment at Quarterlands though when I ran onto the white line and my feet were off the pegs and allsorts but I managed to hold on and carry on."
Dunlop had opened up a sizeable gap by the end of the first lap and it was Conor Cummins who was in second just ahead of Gary Johnson, Martin and the second Padgetts Honda of Bruce Anstey. Second time around and the order was the same with the major moves coming from William Dunlop who was fighting his way through the pack after a poor start and had gone from 11th to 7th.
Martin had lapped at 132.863mph on lap two and had moved up to second place a lap later but Dunlop had gone quicker still at 133.375mph and his lead was now 2.3s. Johnson was in fourth and had dropped back considerably off the tail of Cummins but Dunlop was pressing ahead and going into lap five he’d added another second to his lead. Martin, Cummins, Johnson and Anstey were safe but a good dice was taking place further back with William Dunlop and Stephen Thompson battling it out for sixth.
However, as the leaders were half way round lap five, the red flag came out after Lee Vernon crashed heavily at Rock Bends and so the result was taken at the end of three laps. That meant Dunlop, Martin and Cummins occupied the podium positions with Johnson, Anstey and Thompson completing the top six. William Dunlop, Adrian Archibald, Dean Harrison and Ian Lougher completed the top ten with Harrison’s best lap of 128.786mph edging him ever closer to Dan Kneen’s fastest newcomer lap of 129.254mph.